IRON ECLIPSE Shows How A Spy Might Work in the Worlds of the STAR WARS' Empire
Dec 3, 2012
Anyone who knows me can vouch for just how big a fan of all things Star Wars I am. I’ve often said (and been berated for saying) that even a bad Star Wars story is a good Star Wars story to me, and that’s because I think the storytelling universe is so vast that I’ll accept something less-than-perfect so long as that means I get another adventure in the worlds inspired by George Lucas and the countless others who’ve contributed to that growing mythology. Of course, not all of these tales are up to my expectations for entertainment, but those of us who grew up in that long, long drought between RETURN OF THE JEDI and the Prequel Trilogy can tell you how sad and lonely our days were when no Star Wars installments were available … and I’ll happily take the bad with the good (or vice versa) any day.
(NOTE: the following review will contain minor spoilers necessary for discussion of the plot, circumstance, and characters. If you’re the kind of reader who prefers reviews fully spoiler-free, then I encourage you to skip to the bottom to paragraphs for my final assessment. However, if you don’t mind a few quick glances at ‘things to come,’ then read on … and may the Force be with you.)
Jahan Cross is an agent in special service to the Empire. He does the Emperor’s bidding, even when that means going into parts where the former Republic has no hold. When Palpatine learns that a secret weapon named ‘Iron Eclipse’ may spell certain doom for his government, he decides to send Cross in to investigate just what this ‘Eclipse’ may be and to secure it for use or, if need be, destroy it so that it can’t be turned against the Empire as a weapon.
Only because I think it’s important for readers to know, I want to clarify the chronology of ECLIPSE: this story takes place approximately three years before the events depicted in STAR WARS: A NEW HOPE, and that’s part and parcel of what makes it so interesting. There have only been a handful of excursions into that time period – understandably, a treacherous time when the Empire was still shaping a galaxy. What we learn about it in this tale is that, while Emperor Palpatine reserves the right to send Lord Vader or his Stormtroopers in to quell any uprising, he also has a third, more deceptive tool at his disposal: a spy who goes by the name Jahan Cross.
Cross is part Imperial officer, part diplomat, and part James Bond. He goes on secret missions into settled parts of the Empire, but he’s also free to go into systems where the Empire holds no sway. Like a good agent, he’s given some top-of-the-line equipment, and, for this adventure, that takes the shape of a super secret prototype class of droid that answers to the name In-Ga. She’s equipped to handle all measure of services on his behalf, including killing by command.
There’s plenty of daring action that takes place in these 120+ pages, and, for the most part, it strolls along at a good pace. What tremendously helps establish the world in this graphic novel is the fact that there are crossover elements from the already established Star Wars canon. For example, the events depicted in STAR WARS: RISE OF THE SITH play prominently into Cross’s personal history. Others places and characters are mentioned, and this helps establish a respectable level of familiarity with all of it. Of course, it never hurts to have a few notable guest star cameos, and who better than that lovable rogue Han Solo and Chewbacca to show up at an opportune moment?
Otherwise, ECLIPSE may not be to everyone’s liking. Some of Dark Horse’s STAR WARS tales involve new characters and settings, and that lack of exploring established characters can be mildly distracting to some or downright uninteresting. As I’ve tried to be clear, I tend to be far more accepting of it because I love the worlds created. However, ECLIPSE does have another factor playing against type in that this is not all that traditional a Star Wars story – it has all of the familiar elements, but it’s principally a spy story first and a science fiction story second. Imagine James Bond going head-to-head with some baddies in the worlds of George Lucas, and you probably get the drift.
STAR WARS: AGENT OF THE EMPIRE: IRON ECLIPSE is a production of Dark Horse Comics. The story is by John Ostrander; pencils are provided by Stephane Roux and Stephane Crety; inks are handled by Julien Hugonnard-Bert; colors are done by Wes Dzioba; and lettering is done by Michael Heisler.
RECOMMENDED, especially if you’re a fan jointly of STAR WARS and the James Bond franchise of films. If so, then you’re liable to get a solid kick out of IRON ECLIPSE. There’s spying and double-crossing and droids, all set against the vast canvas of the Star Wars universe, so you really can’t go wrong. It’s not quite Star Wars, and it’s not quite Bond, but it’s an acceptable blend of the two properties.
In the interests of fairness, I’m pleased to disclose that the fine folks at Dark Horse Comics provided me with a digital advance copy of STAR WARS: AGENT OF THE EMPIRE: IRON ECLIPSE for the expressed purposes of completing this review.
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